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– SARA report cites Ramotor, says Gov’t could retrieve $US billions
The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) is preparing to bring legal proceedings against those involved in the illegitimate awarding of the Canje Block offshore Guyana and assets which stand to be recovered total in the “tens of billions” United States dollars.
The Village Voice is reliably informed that among those who are fingered is former President, Donald Ramotar among others. Back in 2019, pressure was mounted on the leadership of the PPP/C to address the issuance of Petroleum Prospecting Licenses for key oil blocks to inexperienced operators in 2015. These blocks, the Kaieteur and Canje, were basically “given away”, as considered by petroleum experts, just weeks before the 2015 General and Regional Elections.
SARA had launched a probe in 2019 into the awarding of these blocks by former President Ramotar who has claimed that he had no knowledge that Guyana had oil before the Blocks were awarded. Portions of the blocks were awarded to junior exploration companies with limited knowledge in deep water exploration.
“The investigation into the Kaieteur Block is ongoing, and the investigation into the Canje Block is nearing its conclusion. The Canje Block case can be laid in Court in a matter of months as sufficient evidence to act has been recovered and documented,” a document coming out of SARA, seen by the Village Voice, stated. It also indicated: “Assets that can be recovered by the Government of Guyana total in the billions, if not tens of billions USD. It is recommended, therefore, that the Canje Block case be prepared for assets recovery legal proceedings.”
There are oil and gas companies involved in the investigation include Mid Atlantic Oil and Gas Inc. (MOGI), JHI Associates Inc. (JHI), Ratio Energy Limited and Ratio Guyana. In the Canje Block, ExxonMobil holds 35 percent working interest; Total holds 35 percent JHI holds 17.5 percent interest and MOGI holds 12.5 percent. The blocks were awarded to the latter two companies on March 4, 2015 roughly two months before the May 11 Elections.
Meanwhile, at the Kaieteur Block, ExxonMobil holds as 35 percent working interest; Ratio Petroleum/Energy and Cataleya Energy Corporation each hold 25 percent and Hess holds 15 percent. The Kaieteur License was signed on April 28, 2015 to Ratio Energy Limited and Ratio Guyana. Both companies are registered at the same offices in Prashad Nagar and Gibraltar, Israel. There is no available evidence, based on media research, that Ratio Guyana has years of experience in the oil and gas industry.
Media research also shows that while Mid-Atlantic was incorporated in Guyana on April 8, 2013 and JHI was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on June 17, 2015, both companies were in one-on-one negotiations with the PPP/C government for the Canje Block since March 2013. This means that they were requesting oil blocks in Guyana even before their companies were formed.
Added to this, both Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of JHI and Mid Atlantic, John Cullen and Dr. Edris ‘Kamal’ Dookie, respectively, are former employees of CGX Energy which is also operating offshore Guyana.
According to the document seen by Village Voice, there are multiple examples of alleged malfeasance uncovered by the investigation and multiple headings under which the case can be filed. It stated: “These center on the conduct of former President Donald Ramotar and the conduct of Guyana Geology and Mines Commission. The President did not seek the advice of the GGMC internal counsel, who would have advised him the award was illegal. Additionally, there was no formal investigation of Dr. Edris Dookie’s exit from [CGX] Resources only a few months before his block award with Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas, a clear violation of due diligence. This misfeasance is compounded by the acceptance of an application by Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas when their application indicates that they had no cash at all with which to conduct operations.”
At its best, SARA stated that this is another instance of misfeasance that has cost the country billions in U.S. dollars. At its worse, the oil block giveaway has been stamped as “illegal”. The Canje and Kaieteur Blocks amount to over 4.8 million acres offshore Guyana. International media agencies such as Bloomberg following the story have noted that the “rights to drill the area were awarded during the final days of Ramotar’s term” and “nine days after the Kaieteur lease was signed, the government announced that Exxon had struck oil in well called Liza-1.”